Waitangi Park has won a Supreme Award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects. While the Dominion Post couldn't resist getting in a little dig ("Wellington's residents are divided over it") and no-one on the Architectural Centre blog has yet nominated it for Wellington's top ten public spaces, the official citation says:
The varied demands of powhiri, skateboard bowls, kids' playgrounds, sports fields and cleaning stormwater runoff among others underpin a project that offers a delightful experience for active users, passive observers and daily commuters. The park confidently mixes the robust and the gentle, visual and aural, contemporary and historic to create a sequence of spaces that are at once intimate and particular while adding to the greater identity of a major new city facility.My own feelings are a bit more mixed. I agree that it is a really good piece of landscape architecture, with good confident bones and intriguing details, and vastly more interesting than if it had been a plain old bit of paddock. But I'm also inclined to agree with the Arch Centre: it's not one of Wellington's great spaces. Yet.
Many of the small gripes I identified back in January have been fixed, and the low-level planting in general is starting to look much more lush and settled in than it did back then. Once the main trees have grown to an appreciable height (which will take at least a decade), the park will have a lot more structure and definition to it. Now that things are finally starting to open up in the Chaffers Dock complex, it is starting to complement the park and join it to the water rather than looming over it as a blank no-go zone. But it won't be until the buildings to the west and northeast are completed, along with their accompanying public areas, that we'll see what Waitangi Park can really be. Then, the Waitangi Precinct as a whole could offer a series of great public spaces.